Kuiper stands with a life-sized replica of the Willamette Meteorite. He is wearing a blue coat because it is cold and wet outside.

Why Meteorites are Considered Real Estate

“Meteorites, though not imbedded in the earth, are real estate…” Oregon Iron Co v. Hughes, Oregon Supreme Court, 1905

Kuiper is posing with a local monument to the Willamette Meteorite, the largest in North America (& 6th largest in the world. 🌎) The real thing lives at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. It is much, MUCH bigger; it weighs 15.5 tons (pic in story.) Today I’d like to share with you how someone tried to steal it. 😮

The Willamette Meteorite put on a lot of miles to get to NYC. Around 13k years ago, it plopped down somewhere in Canada or Montana. It traveled here to Oregon on glacial ice⛸️ as part of the huge Missoula Floods. The Clackamas Native Americans thought it was pretty special. (It’s special indeed; only about 5% of meteorites are made of iron.)

In 1902, an enterprising miner named Ellis Hughes “discovered” the object on land possessed by the Oregon Iron & Steel Company. He covered it with tree branches and tried to buy the land. When his neighbor didn’t come through with his 1/2 of the 💸, he decided to do the next best thing and move it to his house down the road.

Over the course of 3 months, he managed to move the 15.5 ton🗿meteorite 3/4 mile (1.2 km) through the dense Oregon forest. 🌲 IN BROAD DAYLIGHT. ☀️ WITH ONE HORSE.🐴 He used heckin’ physics to construct a wagon and crude winch out of logs and a big steel cable. His horse would walk around and around in circles, winding the cable onto the winch and inching the meteorite forward bit by bit.

When his prize arrived at his house, he built a shed over it and charged 25¢ to see it. Unfortunately, one of his 1st visitors was a lawyer for the Oregon Iron & Steel Company. Oops. The lawyer saw the giant path of destruction and quickly put 2 and 2 together. They sued. Ellis made the bizarre argument in court that since the Native Americans had “abandoned” their sacred artifact, it was his for the taking. The Oregon Supreme Court disagreed, and Oregon Iron got their rock back.

It was exhibited at the Lewis and Clark World’s Fair in 1905, where it was purchased by a private citizen in New York for $26k (~$688k in 2017 💲) and donated to the AMNH.

Original post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BeTIn9GAiL8/

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